As our Panthers scattered around the diamond for the seventh and final inning of their league championship game vs. St. Thomas More, they were down 0-3 and dismayed thoughts of “this just isn’t our day” had crept in. What happened next was nothing short of incredible. Connor Riches sparked hope with a single and, amid two outs for Pinewood, crossed home plate to bring the game to 1-3. Teetering on the edge of their one remaining out, Liam Smith walked and freshman Eric Burton hit a triple to bring Smith in for a score, thrilling the crowd and bringing the game to 2-3. Power hitter Jackson Haun was intentionally walked, putting runners at first and third. Kolton Budge stepped up to the plate and hit to second base, where a bumbled catch allowed Burton to score. The game now tied at 3-3 with just one out remaining and Haun and Budge on base, Bo Fick hit a grounder that brought Haun home. A strong hit from Casey Bates was caught to end the top of the seventh with Pinewood up 4-3.
After a miraculous top half for Pinewood, the Panthers’ job was now to hold St. Thomas More. Kolton Budge took the mound for starting pitcher Jackson Haun who had delivered six strong innings earlier in the game. A hit from the first St. Thomas More batter was caught by Liam Smith for out one. Budge struck out batter number two. With just one out between Pinewood and the league championship title, Jack Ahrens caught the third batter’s hit to end the game.
Pinewood’s thrilling win was made even more significant by the fact that a rival team attended just to cheer for the Panthers. As Bill Bates, father of Pinewood catcher Casey Bates, remarked, “The fact that a team we beat earlier in the season came to support us just goes to show that this really is a place where our students are characterized by kindness.” Our Panthers' performance and their character make celebrating this team all the sweeter.
Pinewood will progress to CCS playoffs. Game details will be available on Sunday, May 13th.